Barbara Thornton is a visionary entrepreneur and change agent with a solid skill set in initiating new projects, problem solving, strategic planning and facilitation. Her consulting practice focuses primarily on the adoption of city capacity building technology by mid-sized municipalities and the organizations that serve these municipalities. She brings a rare combination of deep experience in city government, in internet technology and in business development to the newly emerging field of “civic tech”.
As a pioneer in internet start-ups, founding one of the first international e-commerce companies in 1997, she is familiar with the complexity of building the right software platform, adding the necessary specifications, navigation, taxonomy, platform capabilities, user experience, business to business and search engine interfaces, social media strategies, software enhancements and operations at a time when commercial use of the internet was new and rapidly evolving. She’s worked closely with software developers to shape the code necessary to support the organization’s internal operations and external public engagement strategy. She understands both the underlying structure of software and the challenge of making it useful to an organization’s management, policy makers, operations staff, customers and citizens.
Asset Stewardship, founded in 2011, provides hands-on assistance to city governments, and companies working with city governments, helping them think through software requirements and other digital technology needs in the context of the city’s overall mission to carry out its mandates and serve the needs of its citizens effectively. As a consultant to municipalities, Thornton has worked with a wide range of departments including police, inspectional services, housing authorities, health services, human services and elder affairs. Her interest in cities grew from her experience as a child watching city council meetings in her home city of Santa Ana, CA. Viewed from the perspective of the city manager, she witnessed a nationally covered rebellion by members of the local police department who organized under the John Birch Society to try to take control of the Department. As a grad student, she organized legislation to allow women, for the first time, to take the Police exam in Massachussetts.
Thornton’s financial training, coupled with her experience working on public bonding for Goldman Sachs and serving for over 30 years on her municipality’s Capital Planning Committee grounds her in an understanding of the financial constraints, opportunities and necessity of careful budgetary planning for the financing of city operations. She has also chaired the committee to establish a a new Facilities Maintenance Department for the municipality.
Thornton earned a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School and a Masters in City Planning (MCP) from Yale University, School of Art and Architecture. She is trained as a facilitator in problem solving and visioning techniques.
She brings a strong educational background and a passionate interest to issues facing cities today.
Her blog, AssetStewardship.com and twitter account @assetstewards report on civic tech, infrastructure, water, schools, public-private partnerships and related topics of concern to cities and to government, in general. Her interests include projects which strengthen and nourish the important role local government plays in our society, in organizational change and in starting new ventures.